Sunday, August 31, 2008

You Don't Need A Weatherman: Conservatives Respond to Sarah Palin

Do you know that Radicals read conservative publications? Well, they do -- if they want to keep up, that is. I am even signed up for alerts from Human Events which, along with the National Review, I read regularly (this is the only thing, as far as I can tell, that I have in common with Dinesh D'Souza, unless he is secretly gay. Then there would be two things. Or maybe still one, since it is not a secret that I am gay.)

But D'Souza reminds me of an important point. The Republican Party, which has done its best to dismantle affirmative action and revile Democrats for trying to establish "quotas," may have trouble with the Palin candidacy because they, and their stalking horses in the conservative intelligentsia, have gone to a great deal of trouble to convince their base that promoting the interests of women over men is ethically wrong. And there is at least the appearance that this is what they are doing with Sarah Palin.

My conclusion from scanning the Usual Suspects this weekend? Most of the conservative establishment likes Sarah Palin, some love her, but there is also a glimmer of serious dissent. McCain himself has the look of a man in a shotgun marriage in some of the pictures, and the rumour mill suggests he was very lightly involved in the choice. And since everybody doesn't love McCain either (Patrick Buchanan seems to actually loathe him,) it probably isn't the smashing coup the Republican National Committee hoped it would be.

The Palin choice could even be a sign that the RNC knows they can't win this one, and they are not throwing a good candidate like Elizabeth Dole to the dogs. My guess? They have asked Palin to fall on her sword, and have promised her Ted Stevens' Senate seat when he is, almost surely, forced to retire for ethics violations. You heard it here first.

John McCain (who I always kind of liked until he repudiated everything he stood for to kiss the RNC's nether parts) is beginning to remind me of Elvis at the end of his career: to all outer appearances Elvis was still "Elvis," but the person inside had become obscure, so surrounded was he by handlers who made all his decisions for him, crafting a superstar image that he didn't want.

So, forget about me. What do conservatives think? Here are a few samples, starting at the center: announces that Sarah Palin "electrifies the conservative base", however some conservatives Politico didn't talk to seem to be on the verge of grabbing a fork and sticking it in a wall socket to achieve this effect. Right wing pro-gay-marriage queer Andrew Sullivan is spitting mad as far as I can tell, calling the Palin nomination "the most irresponsible decision by any leading presidential candidate since Bush picked Quayle." Tell it, Mary.

The Weekly Standard has more or less fallen into line to back the choice, but strangely, columnists like Dean Barnett, William Kristol, and Fred Barnes have almost nothing to say about the substance of her candidacy and have focused their remarks almost exclusively on how the Democrats will try to destroy Palin's reputation through lies and misrepresentations (Republicans would never do such a thing, I know.) And am I right that there seems to be only one woman who writes a regular column for The Weekly Standard? Someone else go take a look and tell me if this is a lie or a misrepresentation, and I will retract it.

In its typically genteel way, the National Review has endorsed Palin, but also has virtually nothing to say about Palin's qualifications for the job.

Commentary has maintained what I would say is an ominous silence for the two days since Palin got the nod. One insight here would be John Podhoretz's strongly argued column favoring Joe Lieberman for veep (strong on foreign policy, strong on Israel, terrifying on the war of terror.) I'm not sure Palin does much for foreign policy intellectuals for whom putting Israel first is an article of faith: as a matter of fact, I doubt that Israel comes up in Alaskan politics at all. And I think Podhoretz was right -- this would have been the smart pick, and I am very relieved that, for whatever reason, it did not work out.

David Horowitz, at has said -- nothing. Which is very unusual for him. Ditto Ann Coulter, who hates McCain, and won't be mollified by Palin if she runs true to form. Coulter has posted links about Palin in a sidebar on her website but has, as yet, failed to make a statement about her party's nominee. I think we have to think that Horowitz and Coulter might be part of the conservative base still trying to get the fork out of the socket.

Veering back to the center-right, The Wall Street Journal's response was fair, but tepid. "Most years, vice-presidential picks end up having little concrete impact on the outcome. Voters usually tell pollsters they care little about the second name on the ticket," the Journal notes. "But the 2008 race, already unusual in other ways, could be an exception, because both choices are meant to deal with key issues the presidential candidates haven't been able to solve on their own." But the article -- co-written by Laura Meckler, Elizabeth Holmes and Jim Carleton, also cites the Quayle pick, and ends the article with reference to something we will hear more about I am sure: Palin's apparent dismissal of a high-level government official in what may have been a personal matter. They continue:

While she revels in her reformer role, Ms. Palin has not been free of controversy herself. In July, she fired Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. He later said that Gov. Palin and her husband had pressured him to remove a state trooper who had been married to her sister and feuded with the family. Gov. Palin denied that, saying she removed the commissioner she appointed 18 months earlier because she wanted "a new direction," and offered him a job as liquor board director which he turned down.

Some legislators have called for an investigation into the affair. "This is going to show people just how vindictive and obsessed the Palins were with this guy," says Andrew Halcro, a rental-car executive in Anchorage and fellow Republican who ran against her in the 2006 gubernatorial contest. "It's not going to be pretty."

I will also be very surprised if McCain's high stakes gambling does not become an issue in the campaign, as well as questions about how and why he "transitioned" years ago from the wife of modest means (who kept the family together while he was a POW) to the rich wife (who buys houses on impulse and finances Senate campaigns for those she loves.) Details about both of these issues are well-known, undermining his rock-solid leadership image, not among Democrats, but within his own party.

Other than grumpy right-wingers roaming the streets of St. Paul, the other thing that is not going to be pretty next week is Hurricane Gus which, as of this writing, seems to be on target to slam into the Big Easy and the surrounding Gulf Coast in the next 24 hours with winds currently at 120 mph. Michael Moore's comments on Keith Olbermann's show couldn't have been in worse taste, could they? A kernal of truth remains: other than being a tragedy for those whose lives will be ripped apart by the storm, it couldn't be a worse piece of luck for the already shaky McCain campaign.


Jarrod Hayes said...

I think you're spot on here. Palin doesn't do anything for fiscal conservatives and moderate republicans who disagree with or are disinclined to get into the culture war thing. She's a rallying point for the religious right, and as difficult as it is to remember (for me anyway), the religious right doesn't constitute the whole of the Republican party...

JackDanielsBlack said...

A few points:
1) Although he would no doubt disagree, I would not call Andrew Sullivan a conservative. He has been shilling for Obama for months.
2)From the story I heard, the person Palin's husband was trying to get fired was threatening their family. Better wait and see before judging her based on this story.
3) I don't think Rush Limbaugh, for example, is a member of the religious right, but he is wildly enthusiastic about Palin. (Quote from his web site: "Conservative. More experience than Obama. And a babe!")
4) Palin apparently has an 80% approval rating in Alaska -- if this translates into National approval, after folks get to know her, the Democrats are toast. People who know her seem to like her (with the exception of a few cranks).

By the way, did you know that her husband is known in Alaska as the "First Dude"?

Anonymous said...

One thing I like about TR is that she is able to give her opinions in an objective and intelligent way.

If Palin turns out to be good for women, you can bet TR will post about it.

Profane said...

The following story in this morning's WAPO undercuts a great deal of the chatter about the decision-making process which went into McCain's pick:

To Jarrod's point, Palin was one of the few picks who could appeal to both the religious right AND the fiscal conservative/moderate wings of the Republican party. The latter describes most of my family, and checkbooks opened in the last two days for the first time in years. Some are enamored with her success in draining at least part of the swamp of Republican corruption in Alaska.


John Poole said...

Why, oh why, are so many prominent Republicans now picking up on and blindly repeating the same mantra, that "Palin has more experience than Obama", or (Variation #2), that "Palin has more experience than Obama and Biden combined"?

The latest victim of the Palin Experience Meme is Rudy Giuliani, who attempted to pass on the virulent strain to the rest of us on Face The Nation yesterday morning. At least Giuliani attempted to offer his "reasoning" behind the claim, stating "All Senator Obama has to do is talk. That's all he does." HUH?? Rudy, you can't be serious!

I scarcely need remind the reader that Palin's resume consists of 1.5 years as governor of Alaska, and two terms as mayor of the small town of Wasilla. ZERO foreign or national policy experience. Obama, on the other hand, was an Illinois State Senator from 1997 to 2004, and a member of the U.S. Senate since 2004. Sure, his resume is "thin" compared to previous Presidential candidates, but how on Earth can any one claim Palin somehow has "more experience" as a decision maker?

Of course, her idealogical values are completely in-line with social conversatives and the Christian Right, so that means her resume is of little consequence to her supporters ("Experience good to have, but not necessary -- willing to train on the job").

But what I am really ranting about isn't so much Palin, or her lack of cred, as much as the fact that so many conservatives in recent times (otherwise intelligent people, whom I believe in my heart really do know better) are so infected with "that thing"...that thing where total suspension of logic, along with turning a blind eye to documented fact, is somehow not only okay, but is expected, normal, standard operating procedure. That it's more important to *believe* than anything else.

That's why we're in Iraq today, and that's why John McCain can make a hasty, reckless, and dangerous choice for tomorrow, and get full public support for it from the most visible of Republicans, who freely make blanket claims with no factual basis. Why are they so completely comfortable and unabashed in doing so?

JackDanielsBlack said...

John, Sarah Palin has been governor of Alaska for nearly two years. I believe the "prominent Republicans" you are referring to are saying that she has more executive experience than Obama and Biden put together, and this is true. You can argue about whether executive experience is more important than legislative experience, but the Presidency is, after all, an executive office, so a little executive experience is a nice thing to have if you are seeking it.

Also, I understand from an article in today's Washington Post that Ms. Palin has been thoroughly vetted, including a background check by the FBI -- see

Are you folks afraid of Sarah? John McCain at least has had the courage to choose a female running mate. Too bad Obama couldn't overcome his revulsion and do the same -- even though in his case thee candidate woman got 18 million votes in the primary. Instead he picked an old white guy. Perhaps you can explain why this constituted good judgment on his part.

By the way, I believe the word is ideological, not idealogical.

John Poole said...

Well, yes, I am frightened by the prospect of Sara Palin being the Vice President of the United States (one heartbeat away, as they say). Very frightened. And I know that you know that I know that the word is "ideological". That was a typo...and a cheap shot on your part. I am not, after all, running for office here, am I?!

John Poole said...

Oh, and let me qualify my previous comment...I am not afraid of her because she is a woman, if that is what you are implying. I am afraid of her because of thin resume combined with her ideology. And I do not agree with you that Obama has some sort of "revulsion" toward having a woman VP, just because he didn't pick one. That's a bit of a stretch, don't ya think?

DrShoe said...

I don't know whether Mrs. Palin underwent an adequate vetting, but I certainly wouldn't trust the McCain campaign's own account of the process (as two of the previous posters do, when they cite a recent WaPo article of the subject).

This is one of the things I hate about blogging: people link to articles that don't prove what they are supposed to prove.

John Poole said...

Well, just for's a CBS News article contesting the aforementioned WaPO articles about sufficient vetting:

And here's a NY Times article claiming that McCain has a team of people still actively vetting (ex post facto vetting?) Sarah Palin:

There also are quite a number of threads out there on various blogs claiming more precisely that a team eight people is on the ground in Wassila right now, though I would feel less confident about the veracity of the bloggers compared with the other two sources.

John Poole said...

I hate the way Blogger truncates these strings. Here they are again. Sorry.

JackDanielsBlack said...

John, I don't believe that you addressed my point in any of your three notes about Ms. Palin actually having more executive experience than Mr. Obama.

Nor did you answer my question about why Mr. Obama failed to select a woman as his running mate. If winning 18 million votes in the primaries didn't qualify a woman to be the Democratic nominee for president, what will? If I were a woman myself, I would want to know!

John Poole said...

Dear JDB,
I concede that Palin has more "executive experience" than Obama -- 2 years at the local level, nearly 2 years at the state level. And so what? Obama has 7 years experience at the state level, nearly 4 years at the federal level. Granted, legislative experience, but I don't see, by any stretch of the imagination, how Palin's minimal "executive experience" outweighs Obama's 10-11 years. It just doesn't seem like a reasonable comparison.

By your logic, one could claim that Palin has more "executive experience" than McCain. Does that seem like a reasonable claim to you? (I am not asking this rhetorically -- I'd really like you to tell me if you think that's a reasonable claim).

Joe Biden, of course, has been a senator since 1973. Once again, does it seem reasonable to assert that Palin is better qualified than Obama and Biden combined? So what if she served in an executive capacity during her "almost four" years?

Regarding why Obama did not choose a woman as a VP -- I cannot readily answer that question because I am not inside Obama's head. But why do you keep emphasizing "woman", as opposed to some particular candidate? (As though a candidate's sex should be the deciding factor in a pick.) Furthermore, you claimed in an earlier posting that Obama had a "revulsion" to having a woman as a VP. How can you justify knowing that? (Again, this is not a rhetorical question). That was your only explanation for his choice of "an old white guy" (your words).

Once again, Biden has been a senator since 1973. If Clinton is the "woman" you're harping on (clearly, she is), who has more experience (even just as a legislator)?

Frankly, I would've been extremely happy had Obama chosen Clinton. But he didn't. And I am not convinced it had anything to do with her sex.

JackDanielsBlack said...

Now, John, if you did a little research, maybe you could answer your own questions. McCain was an officer in the Navy for many years.
Once he was released by the North Vietnamese, he became the commander of a training squadron in Florida. As his biography on Wikipedia states:

"Having been rehabilitated, by late 1974, McCain had his flight status reinstated, and in 1976 he became commanding officer of a training squadron stationed in Florida.[53][56] He turned around an undistinguished unit and won
the squadron its first Meritorious Unit Commendation.[5"

I hope you would agree that being a commanding officer in the military counts as executive experience.

Where is Obama's executive experience? To get into the Illinois Senate he didn't rely on the voters to determine the Democratic candidate-- instead he had the incumbent woman (and all other primary opponents) disqualified by challenging signatures on their petitions. While in the legislature, he ran up a long string of "present" votes, being unwilling to commit himself one way or the other. Most of his Senate career has been spent campaigning for the Presidency. This record makes him qualified? If you listen to his speeches, you will think he should be president. If you look at his record -- not so much.

As for Obama's revulsion -- you could tell by the way he looked at Clinton in the later debates. It is also reflected in the fact that she was not selected, even though she was the best qualified of the Democratic candidates. Turning down a woman (or person, if you like) who got 18 million votes in the primaries and has a fanatic following of her own demonstrates good judgment? I don't think so.

Yes, Joe Biden has plenty of legislative experience. He also has considerable experience as a plagiarizer and a blowhard. Executive experience? Again, not so much.

And isn't it funny that every time a woman comes close to the presidency or vice presidency, the Democrats in charge find something wrong with her. Too pushy (Hillary), not experienced enough (Sarah), and I am sure they will find a reason for the next one as well. I am sure there are many women who have heard these sorts of things in their own lives and careers. I hope they reflect on this, and take appropriate action.

If the above sounds to you like a "total suspension of logic and turning a blind eye to documented fact", as you so kindly put it, I apologize in advance.

Debrah said...

Oh my.

I fear we are going to have some very heated partisan attacks during the next few months.

As an Obama supporter among some who simply abhor him and think he's a phony, I have heard it all before.

All politicians have a kind of facade. It's theatre. A certain amount of stage presence is mandatory for success.

Obama possesses an uncommon amount of charisma and that irritates many--mostly men, I have discovered.

McCain is certainly a patriot and it's too bad he couldn't name his closest friend Joe Lieberman as VP, but that's politics.

Who knows about Palin? I agree with Obama that her teenage daughter should be off limits; however, the girl must be an idiot to get pregnant so young.

Have an abortion and shut up about it!

Lastly, to usher in a new academic year, I give you a most ardent Obama supporter---one who was on the Obama train right from the beginning---the magnificent KC....

.......a "god" of the academy.


JackDanielsBlack said...

Debra, that cinches it -- if KC is for Obama, I'm voting for McCain for sure!

Tim Lacy said...

It looks like "jackdanielsblack" created an i.d. to explicitly cause trouble in TR's comments section. Let's ignore JDB and see if he/she'll go away. - TL

JackDanielsBlack said...

Tim, your approach is so much easier than dealing with the issues -- but perhaps a little intellectually lazy?

John Poole said...

I am well aware of the details of John McCain's (exemplary) military background, and if we are going to expand the domain of discourse of this argument to include life experiences outside of government, than I happily agree with you that McCain's military history makes him that much more qualified as a chief executive...

Which is even more to my point, because then comparing Palin against McCain has the net-effect of making Palin's resume go from thin to micronic. She needs to be someone who can fill his shoes at a moment's notice. Those are pretty big shoes to fill. And that is precisely why she scares me as a potential VP. And why I claim she was picked to satisfy an ideological requirement within the republican base, because her scanty qualifications just aren't up for it.

JackDanielsBlack said...

John, I fear that continuing our argument would not interest many folks on this blog so this will be my last note on this. All I can say is that I think you are judging Ms. Palin before you know very much about her. I hope you will listen to what she has to say with an open mind (as will I -- after all, I don't know her very well either.)

Take care.

Susan said...

One could (if one was interested) compare McCain & Obama by their most recent executive experience -- running a presidential campaign. This is, after all, a large organization; the candidate has to choose staff & work with them. (I give both candidates the credit of thinking that they do direct their campaigns.) I think Obama comes out ahead: his campaign has been focused, disciplined, and coherent. McCain has changed his "team" several times.

Jarrod Hayes said...

Maybe this is why Republicans have been reticent to jump feet first on the Palin nomination:

John Poole said...

Just FYI -- For everyone's reading pleasure...

JackDanielsBlack said...

Oops -- inadvertently posted this under the wrong subject, so I am reposting it here, where it belongs.

Any reactions to Palin's speech last night? Also, does anybody besides me think that she is a feminist -- albeit of the blue-collar ("Hey, Joe, throw me some more ammo -- I see a moose!") rather than the academic variety? When all is said and done, she has actually accomplished a lot -- and seems to have the potential to accomplish a lot more.

JackDanielsBlack said...

See also

Debrah said... matter what one's politics and ideology might be, I must admit that Sarah Palin's performance last evening was extraordinary.

The debates between her and Biden should be interesting.

Two people who love to talk.

Although I vehemently disagree with her on many issues---abortion, highest on that list---most women in this country will admire her, IMO.

She really does have a very funny, down-to-earth, and "normal" family to which many voters will easily relate.

I have always loved the wit of Maureen Dowd, but her attacks on Palin, and the attacks coming from many Democrat feminists, will turn off some voters.

They had better follow Obama's lead on this one.

Palin is quite attractive, very funny, and smart. Detractors cannot go after her so personally.

It's not good politics.

Debrah said...

As a friend of mine asked, "Why can't we have an Obama/Palin ticket?"


John Poole said...

Dear JDB,
Would you mind possibly re-posting that link (from the weekly standard)? It's very annoying, but Blogger always seems to truncate long URLs. I don't know any way around it other than to break the URL down into several short lines so the end of the URL doesn't get cut off. Thanks much! - JP

JackDanielsBlack said...

John, I agree -- long URLs are a problem, and I am not quite sure how to get around it. But I did find thaat when I highlight the entire URL, invoke the "copy" function, and then paste it to the browser line that contains the address of the target (up at the top) it seems to work. Or you can go to and click on "The Speech". (This will probably work only for today, since the link will be moved off of the home page eventually.

John Poole said...

Hey, thanks. Yes, that was precisely what I attempted, but I only got that portion of the URL that was visible in the comment. No worries; I'll just go to the home page and click "The Speech", like you suggested. Thanks anyways!
- JP

John Poole said...

Anyway, back to business...So my impressions on the speech? Generally along the same lines as Debrah's. However, I was really surprised that Palin (and several others) decided to mock Obama's success as a community organizer, given that the first night of the RNC began with a theme of "Service" and the notion that community-level, individual, faith-based, etc., approaches to serving others was considered a highly valuable thing, and something that cannot adequately be handled by gov't.

Here is a link a blog entry describing the success of Obama's early community organizing efforts:


Again, given the extreme "Service" theme on the opening night, I found that follow-on criticisms of Obama's early work rather hypocritical.

Debrah said...

Here's the direct link.

Debrah said...

And here's John's blog link.

John Poole said...

Ah, you just included an href embedded in your comment text..sometimes the answer is right in front of me, and I just don't see it! Thanks, Debrah!

John Poole said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Poole said...

It looks like a lot of community organizers are not very happy! See Think Progress post

davidjhemmer said...

None of Obama's alleged "sucesses" as a community organizer in Chicago have stood the test of time, none of them continue to this day.

My blog successfully predicted BOTH the choice of Biden and Palin, the only blog in America to do so.

Anonymous said...

Very late comment, but nobody responded to your idea that the GOP has promised Palin Stevens' seat as a reward. If Stevens wins this election (which he 90% probably will) and then has to step down for ethics violations, what happens to his seat? The appointment is made by the governor of Alaska, which would be, um, Sarah Palin. Sort of like when AK Senator Frank Murkowski became governor and a law was pushed through the legislature to ensure that he got to appoint his successor instead of the Dem he was replacing. He appointed his daughter, Lisa Murkowski. So Alaska is no stranger to weird appointments. All Palin would have to do if Stevens resigned is work out a deal with her vice, Sean Parnell, so that she stepped down, he became gov, and he appointed her all on the same day. Poof! Senator Palin.

Yes, there's a little detail of an election later, but that part's easy...